Becker and Lillard at East Coast summer camp
August 25, 2009

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Sandy Hill Camp was home this summer to sophomores Sarah Becker and Luke Lillard. The 200-acre camp and retreat center located in North East, Maryland—with its motto “Be Amazing Today”—houses a ropes course; a waterfront complete with speedboats, sailboats, kayaks, and canoes; a barn with dozens of horses; creative arts studios; a pool; lodges; cabins; and conference centers.

Sarah dressing up for Flagpole on "Pink Day";
Luke waiting for his guitar class to arrive
Because SHC hires only 10 percent of its summer applicants, Sarah and Luke were excited to both get interviews, much less both get hired to join the summer staff of 180. Luke’s responsibilities included teaching a ropes course and guitar classes and being a cabin counselor to 9- to 13-year-old boys. He ministered to the boys and motivated them to “Be Amazing Today,” which was evidenced by his cabin frequently winning spirit challenges and cabin clean-up awards throughout the summer.

Sarah was a cabin counselor and also served on the photography and office staffs. Her campers ranged in age from 12 to 15. Sarah explained that “while Luke’s campers were typically more physically draining, mine were more emotionally draining. I found that building relationships with my girls–through conversations, confrontations, listening, and talking–was the single most challenging and rewarding thing I have yet to do with my life. Most campers were typically children of New England’s wealthiest—doctors, lawyers, and politicians. And most of them were not 'religious' at all.”

Luke assisting a student in his guitar class; Sarah and four of her girls;
Luke teaching a Challenge Course class on the ropes course

Luke and Sarah loved working among a very diverse staff, which included Christians, agnostics, atheists, Muslims, and Jews; and half came from 17 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Pakistan, Sweden, Columbia, Egypt, Ireland, England, France, and Germany. “The Christian community at SHC,” Sarah commented, “was extremely close and dedicated to our twice-weekly Bible studies. Anywhere from 15 to 30 of us would venture down to the waterfront and read scripture, pray, and share on the docks as the sun rose. It was refreshing to speak with Christians who came from all over the world and found God in so many different ways. And it was amazing to see how much our faith bonded us.”

Luke, Sarah, and two friends use their weekend off to visit Washington, DC;
Sarah (right) with a group of friends during the "Jungle"-themed dance;
Sarah and Dan, a counselor from Israel, playing around during "Pirates" week;
Luke (right) with two other staff members during ropes training

Sarah described a wide variety of summer challenges: “a flu outbreak, dehydration, exhaustion, being far away from home and our Bryan family, feeling helpless as we tried to help campers through hard times, having very close friends with very different morals and beliefs, and the issues that inevitably arise when you stick 180 college students together for over two months.”

“Still,” she concluded, “I can’t think of a more rewarding way to spend the summer. My interactions with my girls created lasting relationships that are continuing through emails and Facebook messages, and I already miss sleeping in a cabin with no air conditioning in the pouring rain with nine teenage girls huddled in the middle of the room around my big battery-powered lamp. Our different interactions with the staff are moments that we will not only treasure, but will keep with us as we begin the fall semester back at Bryan.”